fanfic, fic, s4, spn, stxi, xover
Fic: "Don't Care to Stay Here Long" (SPN/ Star Trek Xover)
Title: Don't Care to Stay Here Long
Fandoms: Star Trek, Supernatural
Characters: Sam, Dean, Kirk, McCoy, Spock
Rating: pg-13, for language, gen.
Spoilers: Through SPN 4.10; takes place between 4.10 and 4.11.
Disclaimer: not mine, no profit
A/N: A huge thank you to calamitycrow, for the super fast beta (especially since I wrote a lot of this backwards), and for all kinds of other help with it as well. I owe you one, bb.
A/N: Title from a nineteenth-century hymn.
A/N: Written for brighteyed_jill at the xover_exchange. This version has been considerably cleaned up and smoothed out.
Summary: Since when did demons start looking like demons?
I got a craven love for blazin' speed
I got a hopped up mustang ford
Jump into the wagon, love
Throw your panties overboard
I can write you poems, make a strong man lose his mind
I'm no pig without a wig, I hope you treat me kind
Things are breakin' up out there
Bob Dylan, "High Water (for Charley Patton)"
At 8:15, Dean finally decided it would be okay to wake Sam up. He'd been awake since 4:45 himself, jarred into the pre-dawn blackness by a dream of pain—the exquisite agony of a knife so fine it could separate tendon from tendon, nerve from nerve. The feeling of his flesh being carved away from his bones had been so vivid he'd been startled to find his body intact when he woke up.
Glad that his brother was in the motel room for once, he'd laid still for a while, listening to Sam breathe. The regular in-and-out of it steadied him, brought him back to a place where time continued forward with regularity, didn't loop over itself in an insane cycle of fear and pain. But after a while he hadn't been able to take the immobility any more, and since he'd sworn off daytime drinking, he'd eased himself out the door and gone to find coffee and newspapers.
At least the papers had taken his mind off things. He rolled up one of them and prodded Sam with it.
"The fuck, man?" Sam mumbled, "It's New Year's Day—y'know, football and black-eyed peas. No hunting today. Holiday," he shrugged himself into a tighter ball of blankets, "just 'cause you can't sleep doesn't mean you need to mess it up for the rest of us."
"There aren't any holidays from hunting," Dean said, swatting Sam again with the newspaper, "and you've never had black-eyed peas in your life."
"Guess that explains the bad luck," Sam groused, sitting up. Dean tossed the unfolded newspaper into his lap and watched him expectantly.
"I don't think it's our kind of thing," Sam said after a minute, trying to hand the paper, with its blurry police artist's sketch of a pale man with pointy ears, back.
"Sam. C'mon—look at the picture. It sure looks like our kind of thing."
"Okay. For one thing, demons do not usually look like demons."
"You never know, they might," Dean protested, "especially these days, what with the Apocalypse n'all."
Sam rolled his eyes, picking up the paper again. "And for another, this guy—probably just somebody with an unfortunate genetic disorder—he hasn't hurt anyone. Just grabbed them and scared them. When's the last time you heard of a demon not hurting anyone?"
"Maybe he's working up to something. I don't know, Sam. But with a mug like that, terrorizing the neighborhood—we gotta check it out. You know we do." Dean realized, to his horror, that he was close to pleading.
Sam sighed heavily. "Yeah, yeah, alright," he swung himself up, moved towards the bathroom. "But I'm only saying yes because you're bouncing off the walls—gonna make me nuts if we stay here. But we're both running on fumes, and you know it."
Time was, Dean would have ripped Sam a new one for being so fucking condescending, but that time was gone, and today he was just shamefully grateful that his brother was willing to hit the road on a Federal holiday.
At least it was warmer in southern Arizona—by mid-day, the temperature was pushing 60 degrees, and a clear, strong January sun was beating down on them. And the food was good—sopapillas to die for. But those two things didn't really make up for the lack of helpful information they'd gotten out of the locals in the diner—the fourth one they'd hit in two days.
Everyone had a different version of events: he was after the women; he was after the kids; he was an escaped convict from the state prison in Florence; he was a man left homeless after a terrible accident; he was a crazy refugee from some backwoods militia; he was an alien; he was a demon (well, at least the visuals were right for the last two).
The man—the creature--was scary as shit—that was the only thing people could agree on—some otherworldly force emanating from him. And he seemed to alternate bizarrely between threatening the people he grabbed—manhandling them a bit before letting them go—and trying to communicate something. Whatever it was he wanted to say, though, the people of Marana didn't want to hear it. Just wanted him gone.
When the Winchesters left the restaurant, someone was leaning against the Impala.
A tall guy—lean, thick brows over bright blue eyes. He had his ankles crossed, elbows resting on the car's roof—perfectly relaxed, yet managing to signal a challenge with every line of his body. He was dressed unremarkably enough, but there was something off about his clothes—jeans too dark and stiff, no nub on his flannel, collar standing up too straight.
"Dude," Dean said, low and even as he could manage, 'cause the guy's cocky smirk was making him feel like a cat whose fur was being rubbed the wrong way, "get offa my car."
"Whoa, whoa," the man said, taking his elbows off the Impala, but still staying close enough to her to set Dean's teeth on edge. "Touchy, huh?" The guy's arms went up in half-mocking conciliation, "Well, I would be too if she were mine—she's a beaut," his smirk turned into a full-on leer, "We just want to talk to you—get a few things straight."
Dean noticed for the first time that there was another man there too, off to the side a bit—dressed in the same not-quite-ordinary way. This guy had dark hair and a warmer expression. He looked a little worried about what the first guy was gonna do, to tell the truth.
Dean moved his hand slowly towards the gun at the small of his back. "Dean," Sam said, warningly. Then Sam pitched his voice for maximum intimidation, and said to the man near the car, "Okay, we'll bite. What do you want to say to us?"
"The person you've been asking about. You need to back off."
"And why would we do that?" Dean asked, imaginary hackles going higher, if possible.
"Because he's our business, and not yours," and fuck if the guy, who must've been a couple of years younger than Dean, didn't sound like he was used to people doing exactly what he said—all the time.
"As long as he's bothering the people of this community, he's our business," Dean was really spoiling for a fight now; punching this smug bastard out would do him a world of good, he could tell. "Look, no offense, guys, but we were here first. And we usually work alone. Lone wolves—if you catch my drift." He couldn't remember the last time other hunters had tried to horn in on a Winchester job.
"Huh?" that was the dark-haired guy, speaking for the first time, "no, we're not looking to join forces or anything. It's just--you've got to let us handle it—you don't know what you're dealing with—you could get hurt."
"We? Could get hurt?" Sam chimed in, incredulous, "Okay, if you're such experts, you tell us what's going on here."
The two strangers just stared at him, stony-faced.
"Yeah," Sam said, "Didn't think so. Alright, we've heard enough. My brother's right--you need to move away from our car and let us do our job." Sam made an unmistakable move towards his own weapon.
After a moment of epic staring—during which Dean hoped, really hoped, that the dude with the eyebrows would make a move so that Dean could bring him down—everyone seemed to agree that a stalemate had been reached. The guy slowly backed away from the car, smirk intact, conceding nothing. Sam and Dean climbed in, looked daggers at the strangers, and sped away.
They had no clear leads, so the only thing for it was to start combing through the scrubby foothills behind the brand-new subdivisions of fast-growing Marana, where the creature, or whatever it was, had been seen most frequently over the last week.
"Who do think those guys were, back at the diner?" Sam asked, as they picked their way over the rocky terrain, "if they were hunters, they weren't anyone I've ever heard about."
"They didn't seem like hunters," Dean said, certain of it, though he couldn't say why, "they seemed more like military or something—special forces?"
"What, you think this creature's some kind of government experiment gone wrong?" Sam scoffed, "we are pretty near Area 51—escaped alien maybe?"
"Dude, how many times do I have to tell you?" Dean answered, glad of the gentle ribbing from his brother, all too rare of late, "The The X-Files was only a TV show."
They trudged through rocks and pine brush for hours, coming up with exactly zilch. The abrupt curtain of desert night fell early, catching them near the crest of a line of low, ragged hills. A coyote's howl sent a shiver down Dean's spine, and he hoped that all the rattlers had remembered to tuck themselves under rocks for the night.
Just as they were about to call off the search for lack of light, Sam cocked his head, listening. Then Dean could hear it too—male voices, low and intense, coming from somewhere off to the east.
They tracked the sound to a rough clearing in the pine trees and paused at the edge, the three men in the center too preoccupied with each other to notice their approach.
It was the two guys from the diner, along with, well—a demon—it was the only description that seemed to fit. The new figure had a tall, lean, almost human body—dressed in the same kind of outfit as the other two—but his shiny black hair was cut short enough to reveal decidedly non-human ears: pointed, like you saw on gargoyles. Sharp black brows slanted above dark eyes, framing a face that was—well, again, not-quite-human. There was a ring of white around his irises, though, so Dean let himself hope for a moment that he just looked like a demon. Then the figure blinked, and opened eyes that were pure, total black.
The demon had the dark-haired man from the diner in a chokehold, the other hand twisting the guy's arm behind his back at a painful angle.
The third man was facing them. He didn't look cocky anymore; he looked dead serious and a little desperate. He had a weapon trained on the demon—not a gun, only a little bigger than an old-fashioned cell-phone, made of some light-colored metal that glinted in the fading light.
The demon, needless to say, was taunting him.
"What's the matter, Jim?" it said, voice cold and precise, hint of an accent Dean couldn't place, "Can't choose between them? Can't decide whether to shoot Spock, or let your best friend die? Or, wait, maybe Spock is your best friend?" it made the phrase somehow obscene, "Hard to have two, isn't it?"
"Shut up," the guy with the not-gun, Jim, ground out.
"Can't make up your mind, huh? Always thought that was the truth about you—can't make the hard choices when it comes down to it. All those brains, and all you can do is dither," the demon frowned in false sympathy, "Not like your father, after all, are you? Now there was a man who could make the tough calls when it mattered."
"Shut up," Jim repeated, like he couldn't think of anything else to say.
"Just fucking shoot him already," the dark-haired man rasped.
"You shut up, too, Bones,' Jim barked.
The demon laughed. It pulled the man's arm a little harder, with a precise strength perfectly calculated to pull his shoulder out of its socket. The man yelped in pain, and the demon laughed again.
The weapon started to shake in Jim's hands.
Dean had seen just about enough. He nudged Sam, saw he had Ruby's knife ready. They burst into the clearing, deliberately loud enough to get the demon's attention, Sam holding the knife threateningly.
To Dean's surprise, rather than welcoming the help, Jim swung the weapon around on them, shouting, "What do you think you're doing? Get the hell out of here—this doesn't concern you."
"The fuck, man?" Dean was furious, "this sure as fuck concerns us. This is our job. Back off and let us take care of it."
"You are not hurting him with that thing," Jim said, gesturing towards the glinting knife and re-directing his weapon towards Sam. He fired at a tree about six inches to the left of Sam's head, and the not-gun emitted a beam like a goddamn laser, shearing a branch clean off.
The Winchesters froze. Bones groaned. The demon chortled some more. This was the kind of thing demons lived for.
They all stared at each other for a minute, caught in a tense, aggravating stand-off.
Then, almost imperceptibly, but unmistakably, the atmosphere in the clearing changed. The demon, very slowly and deliberately, took its forearm off Bones's neck, released its hold on his other arm. With a surprised grunt, Bones collapsed onto the clearing floor, one arm going up to cradle his dislocated shoulder.
The rest of them stared, holding their breath, as some kind of weird struggle played itself out across the demon's face, its body hunched and rigid, as if waiting for a blow.
Finally, in a horrible, strangled voice, it said, "I'm sorry, Captain," and then it was gone, crashing through the underbrush, out of sight.
Sam, Dean, and Jim went after the demon, but it was impossible to follow the trail in the fading light. They made their way back to the clearing, where Bones was huddled on the ground, swearing softly. Jim crouched next to him, pulling another weird, beeping cell-phone-sized thing out of his pocket, and waving it around near the injured shoulder.
"It's dislocated," he said, solemnly.
"Don't you think I know that?" Bones said, clearly in pain, "pop it back in already."
"I've only ever done that in practice drills," Jim protested, "I'm not the doctor here." The two men glared at each other.
"Oh, honestly," Sam said, exasperated, moving to brace his hands on the injured man's shoulder. "On the count of three, okay?" Bones nodded. "One…" Sam wrenched the joint back into place.
"Ow!" Bones hissed.
"Okay then," Dean said, glad the immediate problem had been dealt with, "you boys want to fill us in on your demon friend?"
Jim was crouching by his injured friend, fumbling with a tiny medical kit of some kind, but turned his head at Dean's words. "Spock isn't a demon," he said.
"No, he's not a demon—he's a demon's meatsuit." Dean saw no reason not to be blunt, "He's possessed."
"That—that's not something that actually happens," Bones breathed, voice a little ragged. He took the tiny device Jim handed him and jabbed it into his own neck. Dean was impressed—maybe they were some kind of commandos.
"What are you guys?" he asked, "some kind of military? That thing," he pointed at Kirk's weapon, "that a top-secret prototype?"
Bones and Jim—if those were even their real names—didn't deign to answer.
Sam gave Bones the makeshift sling he'd rigged from his own flannel, and the man slipped it on gratefully. "Your friend," Sam asked, tentatively, "it that something the demon's done to him, or is his face always like that?"
The other two men exchanged a look. Then, Jim grimaced, "No, that's his normal appearance."
"Pointy-eared bastard," Bones said under his breath.
"And, uh why does he look like that?"
Jim let out a breath. "Because he's from another planet. He's from Vulcan. In the future. We're all from the twenty-third century," he squared his shoulders, "Captain James T. Kirk of the Starship Enterprise," he held out his hand, "pleased to meet you."
"Uh-huh. And I'm Han Solo," Dean shot back, "and this is my Wookie, Chewbacca," he gestured at his brother.
Sam threw him a massive bitchface, but the other guys just stared uncomprehendingly.
Then Dean thought about the ray gun, and the pointy ears for a minute, and decided to give them the benefit of the doubt. He shook Kirk's proffered hand.
"Leonard McCoy, Chief Medical Officer," the other guy said from the ground.
"Dean," he offered in turn, "Dean Winchester." Sam said his name, and introductions were complete.
He wasn't entirely sure if he believed this Kirk and McCoy—the whole "future" schtick might just be some government cover story—but he heard them out.
They'd been on some unspecified "mission" back to the early twenty-first century, when Spock, the ship's First Officer and Science Officer had just disappeared. Frantic, Kirk and McCoy tracked him for a week, until they'd seen the same newspaper stories Dean and Sam had, and rushed to southern Arizona.
"So, he looks like a demon," Dean said, "and he's possessed by a demon. That's almost funny."
No one laughed.
"I'm not convinced that's what's making him act so strangely," Kirk protested, "we thought it might be some Earth-based pathogen he has no immunity to…."
"Dude. You want us to believe you're from the future," Dean cut in, "you gotta trust us on the demon thing—it's our line of expertise."
"Okay." Kirk said, "If you know so much about this stuff, how do we get it out of him?"
"We'll figure it out," Sam said, in his patented Sammy voice of reassurance. "Come on back with us—we'll never find him again in the dark."
They picked their way carefully down the hillside, flashlights high, stumbling over the occasional stone.
"Hey, how'd you travel back in time, anyway?" Sam asked, after they'd been walking for a while, "You have technology that makes that possible?" No answer, but Sam just plunged on, curious, "And what kind of mission were you on, when he went missing?"
"I could tell you," Kirk answered, voice expressionless, "But then I'd have to kill you."
"Seriously? Seriously?" Dean interjected, "They still say shit like that in the future?"
Kirk didn't reply.
Turned out the starship captain and his doctor were driving a rented, white Ford escort, parked pretty close to the Impala in the subdivison's back streets.
"Huh." Dean smirked, running a hand over the roof, "Now I know why you were drooling all over our wheels."
Kirk graced him with a look sharper than Ruby's knife.
Once they were back at the motel, Dean realized he was starving. "If we're researching, I'm ordering pizza," he told Sam, "you guys still have pizza in the future?"
"Hell, yeah—though since you probably don't have Bathurian mudshrimp in this era," Kirk considered, "make it double anchovy."
Dean made a face, but placed the order.
His brother whipped out the laptop, Kirk hovering over his shoulder. Sam launched into a crash course on the basic principles of exorcism, a rapid succession of images flickering across the screen. Kirk nodded, obviously taking it all in.
"The thing is," Sam said when he'd finished, "it doesn't seem to be working like an ordinary possession. The way he was able to get control back there—that's not typical. People can't usually fight demon possession off to that extent, not without the help of some kind of physical pain."
"Stands to reason," Kirk said, "Vulcans have highly advanced techniques of mental and physical control. In ordinary life, they habitually suppress all emotion."
"Huh." Sam swallowed that serving of crazy without comment, "Well…that kind of, uh, discipline, might make it easier to exorcise the demon…or, it might make it harder. Difficult to know. Are there other, um, physiological differences?"
"Yes," the doctor replied, "though Spock is half-human too, which makes it that much more complicated. Here," McCoy dug out the non-weapon cell-phone thingy and pushed some buttons, "I have his medical records on here somewhere…" he hesitated, "I think I'll crash your—device—though, if I try to transmit them…"
"Give it here," Kirk said, taking the thing. He re-programmed it swiftly, somehow got the thing hooked up to the laptop's USB port. "There—now we can get somewhere," he concluded, nudging Sam aside.
Sam raised his eyebrows at Dean.
McCoy saw them, whispered, "Let him."
All the geekery was kind of exhausting, and Dean was glad when the pizza came. He and the doctor sat on one side of the tiny motel table, while Sam and Kirk jostled for space in front of the computer.
"What usually happens to the, um, meatsuits—in this situation?" McCoy asked quietly.
Dean wasn't gonna sugarcoat it, even for guys from the future. "They don't usually come out the other side."
"But sometimes they do?"
"Yeah—sometimes they do."
Dean had thought Kirk too engrossed in research to be paying attention, but he was wrong. The captain poked his head up at this, and said with steely intensity, "Let's make sure this is one of those times."
Dean looked at him, took in the hard core of commitment under the cloak of arrogance, and nodded. "We'll sure try," he said. He nudged McCoy, "C'mon, let's go see it this place has another room for you guys."
They'd stopped researching around midnight, and he'd waived Sam away when he'd tried to unload a stream of information—wasn't anything that couldn't wait 'til morning. Exhausted, Dean had fallen asleep in his clothes shortly thereafter, some nameless talk show buzzing, the remote held loosely in one hand.
Something—maybe the sound of the TV turning to static, maybe the shred of a blood-soaked dream—jerked him into wakefulness an hour or so later.
Instantly alert, skin prickling, he scanned the room for signs of disturbance, but all he saw was that Sam wasn't there. The ache of that absence, like someone pressing again on a half-healed bruise, pulled him off the bed. He splashed water on his face and stepped out onto the cracked concrete pathway running alongside the motel.
It was 1:45am, and James T. Kirk was already there.
"Hey," Dean said warily, though the starship captain looked less confrontational than usual, standing with his feet apart, hands jammed deep in his jacket pockets, staring at the black, star-studded sky.
"Hey," Kirk answered, "Couldn't sleep."
"Yeah, me neither."
"McCoy's out like a light--gave himself a hypospray—claimed his shoulder still hurt. Wuss."
Out like a light sounded good. Dean wondered what a hypospray was, and whether McCoy might be persuaded to part with one.
"Your brother too?" Kirk was asking.
"Nah. Sam's—uh—Sam's gone out." Even saying that aloud made something sour churn in Dean's stomach, though Kirk accepted it without comment. Dean pulled his flask out of his jacket pocket, took a pull, and offered it to the other man.
"No thanks," Kirk said. He stared at the stars for a moment—homesick, maybe.
Dean wondered what life was like up there, in the future. Had humanity left angels and demons behind when it left Earth? Had it broken free of Hell?
Kirk interrupted his thoughts, "You know what would be good? I'm going nuts sitting here, while Spock's—well, while he's out there. You think there's anywhere open in this town where we could get a real drink?"
"Dunno," Dean answered. But suddenly getting away from the motel didn't seem like a bad idea.
They took the Impala, Kirk angling nonstop to drive—like that was ever gonna happen.
A bikers' bar, garishly lit up with leftover Christmas lights, loomed up out of the darkness a short stretch down the highway. Arizona was awesome like that.
Foolishly, Dean had thought that getting a drink meant, y'know, drinking. Or maybe playing a few games of pool. But mostly drinking. Apparently for Jim Kirk it meant grabbing a bottle of beer, and then looking for the quickest way to start a fight.
Dean got that, he did. A demon was wearing Kirk's shipmate—good friend, too, judging what he'd seen in the woods—and there wasn't a damn thing he could do about it right now. Dean had been there—seen bad things happen to the people he loved and felt that surge of impotent rage that could only be assuaged by smashing stuff. So he wasn't going to stand in the way of Kirk looking to fuck some shit up. It was just, despite his earlier urge to punch Kirk himself, he wasn't in the mood right now.
Kirk surveyed the bar, found the ratio of hottest chick to biggest biker, and ambled over. He unleashed a 100-watt leer at the girl, whose tight pink t-shirt showed about three inches of cleavage and spelled out "superstar" in glittery letters.
"Hey gorgeous, buy you a drink?" Kirk said—apparently pick-up lines hadn't improved much in the future, though his delivery was good.
"I'm with someone," she said, laughing a little, clearly enjoying the attention.
"Who, him?" Kirk asked dismissively, "you don't need all that bulk, baby—come see what it's like with someone who's built for precision, someone who can take the curves tight." He amped up the leer a little more.
She giggled again; the boyfriend glowered.
"You ready for another?" said a voice so close to Dean he almost jumped. It was the bartender, a woman, he noticed happily. Olive skin, thick dark hair pulled back in a pony-tail, mid-thirties probably, athletic-looking, and tough, 'cause you'd have to be in a place like this. Beautiful brown eyes, though, looking at him warmly enough to make him remember what human beings had over angels.
"Thanks, sweetheart, I'm always ready for another," he said, smiling back.
Then he heard the unmistakable thwack of fist into flesh, and Dean knew Kirk had found what he'd been looking for.
"Friend of yours?" the bartender asked, when he craned his neck to see what was going on.
"Not really," Dean said—but he repositioned himself so he could follow the action, feeling vaguely responsible, what with it being his century and all.
Kirk could dish it out, he gave him that. Was fast on his feet and could land a mean right hook. But the boyfriend turned out to have several buddies just as big, and the whole crew knew their way around a fight. Dean was pretty sure Kirk had known that going in, was looking for the hurt, something he'd cop to having done himself a time or two.
It was mildly entertaining for a while (though not as entertaining as flirting with the bartender would have been), but when furniture started getting heaved around, and Dean saw the second bartender—a tall guy with intricate tattoos running up the sides of his neck—reach under the bar for what was undoubtedly a sawed-off, he decided to intervene.
Reluctantly, he waded into fray, alternately making conciliatory gestures, and landing a few blows of his own. The satisfaction of inflicting even that minimal pain was almost too sweet, and he shoved down the host of memories it stirred.
Dean grabbed a literally punch-drunk Kirk by his jacket collar, hauled him away from the bikers, slapped two or three twenties down on the bar, shouted, "sorry about my friend—next round's on us" over the din, and got them out of there as gracefully as possible under the circumstances.
Kirk's nose was bleeding, and he'd split the skin along the knuckles of his right hand, but he was grinning madly, exhilarated.
Dean shook his head, glad someone had found this little trip therapeutic. He propped Jim up on the side of the Impala, and fished around in the glove compartment for some napkins. It was 3:30 in the morning.
"Here," he said, handing them to Kirk and gesturing at his face, "your nose."
Kirk swabbed at the blood ineffectually, suddenly looking much younger, a fine tremor going through him as he came off the adrenaline high of the fight. Dean had to suppress the urge to help him clean up like he would have helped Sam—well, would have helped a younger Sam, not the self-sufficient giant he traveled with these days.
But he couldn't seem to stop himself from saying, "Hey, I know it's bad—seeing a demon walking around inside someone you care about. Hearing that stuff. I've been there—and it's not something you can wish away—no brain bleach is ever going to get those images, those words, out of your head. But you gotta remember: demons lie. And you'll get past it—you'll move on."
It sounded like bleak comfort, even to him, but it calmed Kirk down. The younger man quirked a half-smile at him and reached out his hand. Dean snorted, and handed him the flask out of his pocket.
Kirk raised it ironically and said, "To 2009."
"Oh, no way, don't drink to that—it's looking to be a crap year," Dean protested.
"Okay, then, to fast cars and fast ships," Kirk drank, and handed the flask to Dean.
"That I can do," he said, and took a long, burning pull of whiskey.
Dean slept heavily for once, and woke to Sam flicking a wet washcloth at his ear.
"What are you—six?" he grumbled, trying to jam more of his face into the pillow.
"C'mon, princess, it's game day," Sam said—and it all came rushing back: demons, aliens, demon-aliens.
"Shit, Sam, what is it with you and football this week?" Dean groaned, and pushed himself up against the headboard. He felt hungover, even though he hadn't had all that much to drink last night. Sam had a pitying look in his eyes that Dean wanted to smack right out of him. He wondered when his brother had come in last night; he hadn't been there when they'd gotten back from the bar, but here he was, showered and dressed at—he squinted—7:53am.
Sam handed him a 20oz take-out cup of coffee and a donut; Dean, softy that he was, pretty much forgave him for waking him up.
"Wanna hear the plan?" Sam asked, sitting on edge of the other bed and watching Dean expectantly.
"You guys already made a plan?"
"We can't all catch up on our beauty sleep. Already hashed things out over breakfast." Dean suspected that meant that neither Kirk nor Sam had actually ever gone to bed.
"Yeah, sure, lay it on me."
The fog gradually cleared from Dean's brain as Sam talked, replaced by the familiar excitement of a hunt. It turned out that Kirk and McCoy hadn't found Spock yesterday--he had found them, showing up unexpectedly as they searched the area. They had thought he was trying to tell them something, but then the demon had grabbed the doctor, Kirk had pulled his phaser (Sammy had learned a new word), and the Winchesters had shown up.
So, it turned out that maybe the best thing to do would be to set up shop somewhere, and hope that Spock, in a lucid interval, would come to them. And, as luck would have it, there was an abandoned house a little to the west of where they'd been last night.
"Worth a try," Dean said, listening to Sam as he moved around the room getting ready. "What about the fact that he's—y'know—an alien."
"Half-alien." Sam corrected,, "Well, it's impossible to know exactly how the physiological differences will affect things," he faltered a bit, "For one thing, Vulcan blood has a lot less salt in it than human blood—that might have made him more vulnerable to getting possessed in the first place—and it might make the demon that much harder to get out."
"I know," Sam continued, looking a little worried now, "but probably the trickiest thing is this: you know how one reason exorcisms work is because they remind the demon that the vessel is anchored in our world?"
"Yeah," Dean nodded, "the ritual lets the demon know that it has no business with the creatures of the earth—the words separate the worlds again, and send the demon back where it belongs."
"Right," Sam said, "but Spock—"
"Oh. Isn't from our world—gotcha." Dean frowned, "any ideas on how to anchor him?"
"Well…Vulcan blood is copper based, and, alchemically, copper is associated with Venus…so I threw together some sigils and rituals based around the planet and the things connected to it. That might help."
"And if it doesn't?' Dean had given up his optimism about these things long ago.
"Well," Sam hesitated, "we do have, um, other resources." The coffee soured in Dean's mouth. They were both of them on a slippery slope when it came to Sam's demon-killing powers; it was getting easier all the time to just let him use them. But Dean still hated it when he did.
Sam must have read his thoughts on his face, because he said defensively, "You got any bright ideas?"
"There's always the knife." Dean said grimly, "if you can hold him still for long enough."
Sure enough, Kirk looked exhausted when they met up. McCoy seemed pretty well-rested, though, and he had put together a much tidier sling out of what looked like a pillowcase. Since Spock was looking for his shipmates, they decided that Sam and Dean would ready the house, while the two men from the future tried to lead the demon on some evasive maneuvers.
Sam and Dean went by Home Depot for various supplies, then, at Sam's insistence, stopped at a florist.
"Is this an exorcism or the Junior Prom?" Dean asked, as Sam piled bundles of flowers into his arms.
"Stow it, dumbass," Sam replied, "Venus likes flowers. Especially these," he pointed to some weedy looking things with small white blossoms the florist had used as filler for the bouquets, "Shepherd's Needle—good against disorders of the head."
The abandoned house, when they found it, turned out to be someone's modern foothills dream home—lost to foreclosure and the mortgage crisis when it proved too expensive to live in without benefit of the city's water and sewage systems.
It was a concrete and glass affair, though lots of the glass was missing now, and the concrete was cracking under the onslaught of the elements. They broke in easily enough, and set to work.
Dean took charge of painting the usual sigils, traps and wards in strategic places, while Sam deployed the flowers.
They'd schlepped a ladder up with them, along with the spray paint and the holy water and the salt and the damn flowers, and Dean watched Sam teeter precariously on the top rung, meticulously limning an elaborate symbol on the ceiling. It looked like a Devil's Trap, but included a bunch of unfamiliar symbols and shapes.
"What's that," he asked after a while.
"Like I said, tried to modify the usual design, anchor it in Venus, rather than Earth."
"Huh," Dean stared at it, "Nifty. You got a name for it?"
"Um," Sam said, clearly pleased with his own ingenuity, "I guess you could call it a Venusian Trap."
"What?" Sam demanded.
"Nothing. Just sounds like something a girl in Georgia showed me once." Sam flipped him off.
When they were done, they called Kirk and McCoy—Kirk had also rigged their communicators to pick up cellphone signals—and settled down to wait.
Dean had no idea what the half-Vulcan First Officer of a twenty-third-century star ship was supposed to look like, but he was pretty sure this wasn't it.
Less than an hour after Kirk and McCoy had joined them, Spock appeared at the front door, literally clinging to the door frame--deep lines of exhaustion and pain carved out around his mouth and across his forehead, snags and rips in his clothes, a few leaves clinging to his head and shoulders, as if he and the demon had been wrestling through the woods all day. But it was recognizably the Starfleet officer, and not the demon, who stood before them.
"Captain," Spock said, voice a ragged growl, yet still oddly formal.
"Mr. Spock." Kirk replied cautiously.
"Is it…?" Dean whispered to Sam.
"No," Sam whispered back, "it's still there." Dean raised his eyebrows. "I can feel it," Sam admitted.
"Captain--" Spock repeated, in that same horribly strangled tone they'd heard in the clearing, "inside—"
"We know, Spock," Kirk moved forward to grip the possessed man's arms, "we know, and we're going to get it out. Let us help you—"
"Jim," Spock's voice was even worse now, a wretched thread of sound. He leaned into Kirk's support until their foreheads were almost touching, desperate to communicate something, "inside—fight inside---join—together—." Each word was a gasp.
"Yes, Spock," Kirk sounded close to breaking himself, "yes, we'll fight it together, come on—"
But Spock was gone. The man's eyes flipped black, and with the horrid, uncanny speed native to demons, he straightened and launched himself at Kirk, hands closing around his throat.
The two men rolled together on the floor, a flailing tangle of jabs and punches. It was as if Spock's resistance had infuriated the demon, made it uncharacteristically brutal, visceral—demons didn't usually go for hand-to-hand.
With a bad feeling that this was going nowhere good, Dean threw himself into the fray, trying simultaneously to pry the demon off of Kirk, and to maneuver it into one of the traps laid around the room.
If he hadn't quite believed before that Spock wasn't human, he believed it now. He had grappled with the possessed many times, knew that demons could enhance human strength tenfold. But trying to fight Spock went beyond even that: it was like trying to bring down a man made of steel girders, with the reflexes of a ninja. Even when Sam dumped a canteen of holy water on them, the demon barely winced.
But if the creature was stronger than usual, it was also, for whatever reason, sloppier, less in control of its powers. McCoy, hampered by his injured arm, hung back; but between the three of them, Dean, Sam, and Kirk were able to push it under one of the Devil's Traps painted on the ceiling. It glanced up, snarled, shook them off like a dog shedding water. And then moved away from the trap, with the faint annoyance of someone brushing away a spider's web.
So much for that.
Then they got lucky. The demon took one step, two, and found itself under Sam's Venus-based design. That did the trick; it hurled itself at the perimeter a couple of times, but was repelled, held tight within that three foot radius. It studied the ceiling carefully, frowning--and let out an ear-splitting, animal, howl that made Dean glad they were miles away from the subdivisions.
Both Kirk and McCoy looked shaken—this was clearly so far from Spock's normal behavior that it was like a planet spinning away from its axis.
McCoy was the first to speak. "Alright," he said, subdued, "What do we do now?"
"We send that motherfucker straight back to Hell," Dean answered, rubbing a new bruise on his neck, trying to sound more confident than he felt.
Sam was already intoning the Latin words of the exorcism rite.
The demon cocked its head at him, eyes pitch-black, pulling itself together a bit, like an evil bird smoothing its feathers. The words seemed to be having no effect on it all, but Sam kept going, speeding up a bit in anxiety.
"Sam Winchester," the demon said, in dawning recognition, "Well. You, of all people should be able to do better than that," it drew the words out tauntingly.
Kirk shot Dean a look that said, It knows you? Could this all be your fault? And fuck if Dean could honestly say it wasn't.
Sam ground to a halt; the conventional ritual clearly wasn't working.
The demon laughed. "Come on," it said, "I'm sure you have something better up your sleeve. I've heard all kinds of fun things about you."
Dean literally did have something better up his sleeve: he had Ruby's knife strapped to his side. But he wasn't quite ready yet to be the one who killed Kirk's friend. He and Sam exchanged a long look, and then Dean nodded minutely.
Sam raised one hand, shook his head a little, and concentrated his gaze on the demon.
"Oh, so this is going to get interesting after all," it said.
Dean felt the sick tension he always felt when he saw his brother do this, something inside him screaming, wrong, wrong, wrong.
Sam curled his fingers into a fist, and for a while it seemed like he was pulling something out of the demon. It hunched inward, cringing almost, and a few oily puffs of black smoke came out of its mouth. Dean could sense Kirk and McCoy's astonished uneasiness—life in the stars clearly hadn't prepared them for the strangeness of humanity's home planet.
The demon coughed painfully a couple of times. But then Sam seemed to reach some kind of limit. His brother slumped, a line of blood running from his nose to his mouth.
"Mojo not what it was?" the creature smirked in false sympathy, "you're out of shape, Sam, m'boy."
Sam swayed, and Dean moved to get a hand under his elbow. "You okay?" he whispered.
"Yeah," Sam said weakly, "Sorry."
They were almost out of moves. The demon couldn't get out of the Venusian Trap, but they couldn't get the demon out of Spock. Not without doing some serious damage, anyway.
"What's our next option?" Kirk said, voice rough, but even.
Dean reluctantly pulled the knife out of its sheath.
"No." Kirk said flatly.
"Jim," McCoy said, eyes full of a compassion that belied the level firmness of his tone, "you know Spock would rather die than go on like this. To be an instrument of destruction, irrationality—it's the worst thing that could happen to a Vulcan."
Kirk set his jaw stubbornly.
Dean sighed heavily, "Look, I know he's your friend. But it's our century. And, in the end, we have to do what's right for the people living in the here and now."
Kirk looked at him earnestly, "So kill him, huh?" Dean could hear the undercurrent of pain in his voice, clawing at him in its familiarity, "That's what you would do if it were someone important in your life?" Their eyes locked, and Dean's were the first to cut away.
"Boys, boys, boys," the demon taunted, "such an ethical dilemma." It turned the word into a curse. "Whatever will you do?"
They were all silent for a moment, Kirk stalking a little way off. Then he turned, face lit up by some realization.
"Bones," he said, "I know what Spock was trying to tell me—why he was following us."
"Yeah—he wanted help; we heard him."
"No." Kirk insisted, "he said fight, together, inside—he needs internal help. He wants me to mind-meld with him."
"Jim—no," McCoy sounded horrified, "If you get that close to him, he'll kill you. Or you'll be instantly fried by whatever's going on inside his head. And if it gets control of both of you—I don't even want to think about that—"
Dean had no idea what they were talking about, but it sounded pretty suicidal. He looked over to see what Sam thought, but his brother was still too out of it to be taking much in.
Kirk was on fire with the idea, though, whatever it was. "Spock can almost control the demon on his own, we know that. If I add my strength to his, he'll be able to get rid of it—that's what he was trying to say."
"I can't stop you, can I?" McCoy said, his face a study in anxiety and sadness. Kirk shook his head. Dean thought about protesting, but decided it wasn't his place.
Kirk stepped deliberately inside the radius of the trap.
The demon watched him, but, just like before, Dean could sense Spock struggling for, and slowly gaining control. Maybe he had been biding his time, waiting until the creature had been weakened by the ritual and Sam's powers. Gradually, the Vulcan displaced the demon, and by the time Kirk reached him his eyes were ringed with white again.
"Spock," Kirk said, hands by his sides, as cool and relaxed as if he'd just arrived for day of work at the office.
"Captain," Spock replied in the same tone. He placed his fingers deliberately along one side of Kirk's face.
"What are they doing?" Dean hissed to McCoy.
"Vulcan mind meld," McCoy answered, in an undertone, "it's a telepathic link—they will share all thoughts, all experiences. They will become one mind."
Dean goggled. "That is one batshit crazy thing to do with a possessed person," he said.
"Yes," McCoy agreed, "yes it is."
Kirk and Spock stood frozen, eyes open, but all their energies turned inward. Even their faces were still, but Dean felt like he could sense the upheavals of some terrible battle, raging just outside the edges of his consciousness.
It seemed to go on forever, that fraught, intense stillness, until Dean was just about ready to go pry them apart. McCoy touched his arm, reading his intent, and shook his head. And just as Dean had decided to do it anyway, Spock pitched his head back and opened his mouth.
A column of black smoke roared straight up, then swirled around the ceiling until it found a crack big enough to ooze through. Spock's knees buckled as the demon left him, but Kirk caught him before he fell, easing him gently to the floor, hands cradling his head.
Dean let out a breath it felt like he'd been holding for the last five minutes. He glanced at Sam, who was now aware enough to be amazed. Dean had never seen someone exorcise themselves before. If you'd asked him yesterday, he'd have said it couldn't be done.
The doctor and the captain were hovering over their friend, McCoy running their medical instrument over his body.
"How's he doing?" Dean asked.
"Suffering from exhaustion," McCoy said, "but otherwise unhurt." He sounded shocked that the demon hadn't done more physical damage. "We should take him back to the room, though; he needs to rest."
"Yeah," Sam said, "it takes a while to come back from that kind of thing." Over McCoy's shoulder, Kirk shot Dean a look, as if he somehow sensed that Sam was speaking from experience. Dean shrugged ruefully.
"Spock," McCoy was saying, "I'm sorry I told Jim to shoot you yesterday."
"No apologies necessary," a dry voice answered, tired, but perfectly controlled: he was hearing the real Spock for the first time, Dean realized. "It was a perfectly logical response," the Vulcan said.
After they'd made it back to the cars, Sam suddenly thought to ask about the mission the men from the future were supposed to be on.
"Doesn't matter now," Kirk said, "It—we—have been compromised."
"Don't worry—we've got plenty of new information abut the twenty-first century for Star Fleet to digest," the Captain said with a grin.
Dean woke to the press of cold metal under his ear, and someone's hard hand over his mouth. His eyes slammed open, and there was Jim Kirk, face way too close to his own, half-light glinting off his smile. The digital clock between the motel beds read 5:27. Dean started to struggle, but the weird, space-age weapon just bit more sharply into his flesh.
"Here's the thing," Kirk said, calm and quiet, "We're going to leave in a few hours, and I just can't go back without giving your baby a spin. You've got the keys somewhere on you, and I figured you'd only give them up at gunpoint. So I'm giving you a choice." Dean raised his eyebrows. "Either I can tie you up, and you can tell Sam I stole them—though that does kinda make you look like a lightweight." Kirk shrugged, clearly enjoying the situation. "Or," he drew the word out, "you can pretend it was your idea and come with me—show me what that girl can really do." He smiled, open and dangerous, "Whaddaya say?"
There was no way Dean was going to let some starship captain gun the Impala down the Arizona highways unsupervised. He grimaced his assent, pulled the keys out of his pocket—he was sleeping in his clothes yet again—and grudgingly handed them over. They tiptoed their way past Sam—sleeping in the motel for once—and out into the pre-dawn light.
The night had been cold enough for a hard frost, and a sheen of ice-crystals lay glittering over the black car. Kirk kept his phaser trained on Dean as they climbed in, until Dean finally grumbled, voice still rough with sleep, "You can put that down, dude, I'm not going to try anything. I get it—you guys are deprived up there in the stars—titanium whatsits and so on—you miss the feel of a real engine. Just, y'know, take it slow, let her warm up--this weath—"
But Kirk had already twisted the keys savagely in the ignition and was accelerating out onto the highway, tires screaming as he took the turn too hard.
Fuck, Dean said to himself, hands clenching impotently at his sides, itching to steady the wheel, his foot pressing the floor where the brake pedal ought to be. Fuck.
For all the low-odds situations he flung himself into on a regular basis, and fuglies he faced down an average of twice a week, Dean knew he wasn't much a risk taker—at heart he was more of a play-the-odds, live-to-fight-another-day kind of guy. Maybe less so when he was younger, more sure of his own invincibility, his own immortality. But not now. Not now. Forty years in Hell and an impending apocalypse can do that to a man.
Jim Kirk had apparently never gotten that memo. The highway was as straight as only a desert highway can be, and pretty much empty at this hour. Thank goodness, too, because Kirk was flooring the gas pedal, taking the Impala up to speeds Dean hadn't tried in years—95 mph, 100, 105. Kirk snapped on the tape deck, cranked the volume, and Zeppelin flooded the dark cab. Dean wondered whether "wackjob" was some kind of requirement for command positions in the future. He listened to the engine, hearing that slight misfire he'd been meaning to fix as the rpm steadily increased.
Somehow, Kirk had gotten them headed east, towards the sliver of sunrise just showing at the horizon. They sped through the pools of light left by the halogen lamps along the side of the road, headlights glinting on the unbroken white line down the middle of the two-lane highway.
Suddenly, they came up on an eighteen-wheeler, cruising along ahead of them, only going ten or so mph over the legal speed limit. For a moment, Dean thought that Kirk would slow down. He sped up instead, jerking the Impala over the solid line, gunning it past the truck, and then squealing back into the right lane just in front of a low-lying pick-up headed in the opposite direction.
"Motherfucker," Dean said out loud, though he doubted Kirk could hear him over the music. But he had to admit to himself that the adrenaline rush felt good. Next to him, the captain wore a look of pure, unadulterated joy, and it called up some answering feeling in Dean—some memory, maybe, of the simple pleasure of machines, too often buried these days under the complications of angels and demons. Dawn was breaking in the kind of crazy oranges and yellows you only saw in the desert, and the sheer beauty of it freed something in him, made him forget the web of fraternal silence and divine demands waiting for him back at the hotel, made him want to lose himself in the rush of metal over blacktop. The engine purred beneath them, smooth as silk now that it had warmed up.
"Hey," he shouted at Kirk, raising his voice above the music, "you're going about it all wrong. Listen up for a moment, and I'll tell you how you can really get some speed out of this baby."
Prompts: "mistaken for enemies"; "you can get more done with a kind word and a gun than a kind word alone"; "thrill-seeking or self-destructive behavior."